Monday, July 31, 2006

Daal, Global Warming

If you are from the great country called India, you know what Daal is. While moguls created Daal Fry in northern India scientists invented Sambar in the south! For me a perfect meal would be chappathi served with a large bowl of Daal with a spoonful of butter dancing on top of it and a generous portion of fresh sliced tomatoes.

Dal Fry
Unfortunately, Daal is in short supply this year. Indian stores are selling daal at ridiculous prices. There is an unofficial rationing in place too. I asked the owner of a shop about the shortage and he blamed it on global warming. There was an unusually dry summer in India that dried up tender seedlings last year. As summer eased up and farmers began replanting, global warming brought with her a bout of severe monsoon that flooded their crops. By the time Monsoon let up, it was too late. As a result Daal is in short supply. Indian government rightly banned all exports to ensure the country had enough to feel her citizens first.

I heard daal has reached $6 per pound! Ask our desi store owners about Global Warming and they will happily ask for some next year too.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I remember listening to my grandmother tell stories about her childhood. She was about 55 at the time, but she was really OLD to me. She recalled vividly the long trips she took EVERYDAY from Kulathoor to Sanghumukham walking barefoot along those rusty railway tracks. On each one of those trips there happened something interesting that she saved in her memory to later serve up to her story hungry grandchildren. Every story she told me and my brother took place somewhere along those pilgrimage she took daily. I always envied the memories she had.

I was talking to her yesterday. We talked for a few minutes. Then she handed the phone to my uncle and asked him “Eda ithu Indira aaNoda ?” (Was that Indira?).
Oh God!
Time is stealing her of her memory. It is barely a year since I met her. She was sharp and running around like a twenty year old. When I left she held me tight in a big hug. I felt the warmth of her big belly, but her tears were warmer. Age is slowly catching up and taking its toll. What an irony for a woman who had a treasure trove of memories etched in her mind.

But achamma is also a very luck woman. She survived small pox; gave birth and raised seven children; gave and received the purest of love from twice as many grand children. She is always surrounded by loved ones. She always lived in her own home, slept in her own bed, ate from her own kitchen, and has an army at her disposal to do for her what ever she can’t do herself. I only wish everybody could be that fortunate.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sankaran Namboothiri, Sabarimala

Sankaran Namboothiri
A friend gifted me 3 CDs of Sankaran Namboothiri. I spend the better part of yesterday listening to the CDs. It was pure bliss. Especially the Swathi Thirunal Krithis. The guy is a genius.
It was a blistering 110 degrees outside, thanks to the heat wave that hit most of the west coast. But I enjoyed the coolness and serenity of a moon lit February night, sitting by the temple, listening to a nice kacheri. It felt GOOD. The only thing missing was freshly roasted ‘naadan’ peanuts wrapped in a news paper cones.

I have been wondering all along, how a 30 year old fully figured actress could enter the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala temple and touch the idol. Now I get it. What a shame! What an embarrassing situation for the priest of Sabarimala temple to find himself in! I hope the folks who took the picture know about the photo sharing services on the Internet.

Killing a friend

A friend visited me this weekend after a long, long time. Before I move into the main story I must tell you that he hasn’t changed a bit since the last time we met 15 years ago. Same old personality; same old physique. Perhaps he has become a little chubbier and slightly taller, but his warm smile is still flowered with the same old enthusiasm. Sriram was gracious enough to give his room to our guest for a day. While he was having a shower, I walked in to the room and saw his stuff spread all around the bed. In the chaos was an old copy of ‘The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor’. I picked it up and causally turned the soiled front jacket. Man! I couldn’t believe what I saw! Hand written autograph by the great author himself – Gabriel Garcia Marquez! I turned the next page, and there was a hand drawn smiley face with one more signature!

At that instant I became unbearably green with envy. I wanted that book, and wanted it badly. I knew he would just laugh at me if I ask him. So I thought about killing him. I like my friend a lot, but I have other friends too. But this book - this is one of a kind. I planned to press a pillow down on his face while he slept. Then I could drag him along the trail and toss him to the Lick Mill Creek, which runs right behind our home. He could spend the rest of the night there while the crocodiles worked overtime on his sorry ass.

So I lay in wait last evening. After dinner, he was watching ‘The flight of the phoenix’ on my sofa, and I was keeping an eager eye on him to doze off. It was 11:30 and he exhibited no desire to sleep. It was 12:30 and still the guy was sipping beer and watching TV. I dont remember when I slept off, but I woke up today morning on the sofa still holding the pillow that I wanted to press down on him. I guess either he got lucky or the crocodies were terribily unlucky. Because he was still sitting there with my son watching Elmo!

He got away this time. But if he ever comes back to my house with that book, he may be more difficult to locate than Sukumara Kurup, once I'm through with him.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Barber, Recipe

The hunt for a cheap barber landed me in the hands of a brilliant Iranian barber – or is it barbress – or lady barbini. Anyway, she impressed me as an excellent story teller. In twenty minutes I had my hair clipped and I learned all about her, her country, her profession and her family. She had me spell bound as she detailed her escape from Iran. I was also scared, because while she narrated the stroy she would get enraged and arch back, kick on the hairy floor and swing the scissors right around my face. It was scary, It was also awe inspiring like watching Saving Private Ryan.
The woman was nice to me. She tried ‘restyling’ the remaining hair to cover up my balding top. Unsuccessful, she enlightened me on how the miracle of Rogaine could change my life for ever. I liked her. It was every penny worth the twelve dollars. I think I ought to have my hair cut more frequently.

The Iranian lady barber also shared her favorite Persian Lamb Fry recipe. It involves first injecting cubes of tender lamb meat with frozen butter sticks. Then you marinate it with special spices and melted butter. Then you suffocate the sucker in a plastic wrap with even more butter before you chill it in the fridge. Once chilled it is deep fried in Butter or lard. There you have it. Quintuple bypass surgery ready to go.

Prayer of St.Francis

I have a time machine. Whenever I want to go back to being a 12 year old Cadet, I just have to recite this prayer of St.Francis. I instantly find myself in the school auditorium, tranquilized by the cooing of wood-pigeons and the prayer of St.Francis.
make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred,let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,grant that I may not so much seekto be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in givingthat we receive;
it is in pardoningthat we are pardoned;
and it is in dyingthat we are born to eternal life.
Bookmark this page, Read this aloud when you feel the urge for a Prozac.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Almost hit by lightning

I was talking to my parents today morning and could hear heavy rain slapping down on the ground. They said it had been raining like that for the last few days. Half way through our conversation there was a shuddering sound and the phone line snapped. I tried calling them back, but I couldn’t. I don’t know yet what happened, but that reminded me of a somber afternoon few years back.

There is a clay mine at one end of our village; the place is a lightning magnet. You could see helpless victims everywhere; Dead trees standing burned from head to root, trees with trunks split vertically, and scores of black charred stumps that were once happy coconut trees.

The area surrounding the mines is open and kids regularly played cricket there. It was an early evening around 15 years ago. Sky was dull, overcast and appeared to break any moment. I was playing cricket with my friends. The other team was bowled out and it was our turn to bat next. During the break we slipped behind the privacy of the wilderness to take a piss. There must have been around 10 of us, all lined up in unison. I unzipped my pants, tossed out my hose and began pumping. I don’t know what I drank, but I pissed like a horse. We were competing as to who could piss the farthest when…


A bolt of lightning touched down right before us. It was like a bomb going off (Although I have never seen that happen). The humongous bluish-yellow glow blinded me for quite some time and the deafening bang ringed in my ears for two full days. We all ran like little wild pigs. The next thing I know I was standing near a cowshed, immersed knee deep in moist cow dung, my hose still out in the open, and pants completely drenched in piss. There was a strange smell in the air, like the scent of new aluminum utensils. I reached down to zip up and saw hairs on both my hands standing up like bristles, like the mane of a lion! Static electricity in its purest form! The bristles stay put like that for a long time.

Later that evening I went back there to reclaim our cricket gear. The place still smelled like aluminum. Two tall coconut trees were burning, very close to where we were. It was mere miracle we were not hit. Most of the kids were on bare foot. I was connected to the ground at that time by a trail of urine sample. I was lucky that my crown jewels didn’t get fried or dropped off. Thank goodness, you don’t get spare parts for those.

I never told this to anyone, for fear that it would reach Amma and I will forever be banned from playing cricket.

Where is my government

A must read analysis by Pradeep Nair.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Surprise! Mumbai blasts had cross-border support

There are all the signs of a brewing war in Middle East. Lebanon is being cut into pieces. Gaza, which is already crippled, is being pounded out of existence. Civilian facilities and infrastructure like power stations, water tanks, roads, airport etc are bombed to rubbles. Innocent people are dying. It is sad in a way that civilians are being targeted.

But Israel’s position is also clearly understandable. What else can they do when the enemy does not have a face? What else can they do when the enemy is an (extremist) ideology and not a nation or its army?

While Israel is standing up to terror, our prime ministta Dr.Manmohan Singh made a statement today from under Soniaji Gandhi’s skirt – “Mumbai blasts had cross-border support”. Oh! What a surprise. Is that our response? When are we going to have leaders with testicular fortitude? I only hope that our leaders stop their messianic rhetoric and fire up those beer-bellied colonels into action.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Mozart of Madras

I got a call from my manager today reminding me about an all-important meeting I was supposed to attend. I looked at my watch and it was already too late. I ran to my car and drove like a maniac. I tried to stay calm, but it is hard when you are this late to a meeting this important. In the car the current affairs program ‘World’ was playing. Just as I reached my destination the anchor started this story on India. Then the hit song “chinna chinna asai” began playing. Wow! I looked at my watch and though about the meeting.

Screw the meeting. I sat and listened to the whole thing.

Here it is:

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Italy Campioni!

I am not a foot ball fan at all. But man, what a game! I think Marco Materazzi also deserved a red card. He must have said something real nasty for Zidane to head-butt him. It was funny listening to commentators on ABC. There they were, Italy and France playing soccer in Germany. And here was ABC soccer specialists trying to please their American audience. “Berlin - This is where USA won the Olympics in 1936. This is where Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals. France just scored a goal. Jesse Owens was born in Oakville, Alabama. The AMERICAN surprised many by winning not one by 4 gold medals. Coming back to the game, Zidane scored the first score for France. Italy 0 France 1. Owens was cheered enthusiastically by 110,000 people in Berlin's Olympic Stadium and later ordinary Germans sought his autograph when they saw him in the streets."

Friday, July 07, 2006


I am not a vegetarian. There were many occasions when I tried to become one but failed for lack of discipline. That’s only if I DECIDE to become a vegetarian. So long as I don’t decide to become a vegetarian I can go on and on for long periods of time, with out ever eating or craving for fish or meat.

Two days back I read about cholesterol and heart diseases and DECIDED to become a vegetarian. Immediately I wanted to eat fish. Soon an inviting aroma of home made chicken curry bothered my nostrils from no where. I got all misty and salivating. But I trained my mind to be disciplined. I am a strict vegetarian for the last 3 days. It has mostly been rice, cabbage and ladies finger and it was good.

Today I went out to have ‘veggie burger’ from McDonalds. But the pretty picture there of grilled patty smothered in melted cheese brought me to my knees. The arousing aroma of the actual thing knocked me over. I ended up eating a double beef whopper- a stacked mountain of meat cheese and more cheese, an extra large order of French fries and an industrial size drink. I can feel all that grease and fat and cholesterol cruising though my veins. I got into my car and let out a wild Tarzan scream. ...grgrgrrrruuuuhhhhh.... - Boy! Did it feel GOOOD.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A tale of two pots

I received this from a friend today. Man, What a story!

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a polewhich she carried across her neck.One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."
The old woman smiled, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."